Evacuation: How to be Pet Prepared

Step 1:  Grab-and-Go Disaster Kit

Prepare an evacuation kit for every animal in your household or on your property.  Visit our Grab-and-Go Disaster Kit essentials page for a detailed list of what should be included in the kit for each animal.  SPCA International recommends you prepare these kits now.  You never know when disaster will strike – don’t wait another day!  Your Grab-and-Go Kit will include all you and your animal need to stay safe and healthy during at least the initial period of an evacuation.

Step 2: Transportation

Ideally, dogs should be transported in a crate.  Cats should always be evacuated in a cage or crate.  It is easy to startle cats in the chaos of an evacuation situation and the best way to keep them safe is in a crate or cage. All animals, birds and reptiles that normally live in a cage should be transported in that enclosure.  If the enclosure is too large to fit in your transport vehicle, transfer the animals into a smaller, secure enclosure.  Fish should be moved into a smaller container if they live in a large aquarium.  Be sure to bring along the air filter in order to maintain the appropriate oxygen level in the water.  Cover the container to prevent the fish from being able to jump out.  Place a label with identification and contact information on the evacuation enclosure.

Large animals, such as horses, cows, llamas, goats, sheep or pigs, will need to be transported in trailers designed for hauling such animals.  The back of a pickup can work if necessary, but only for smaller animals that can be safely secured.  Poultry needs to be placed in cages when being moved.

As you think about your situation and how you will transport your animals, you may come to the conclusion that assistance is necessary in order to get all your animals to safety.  Now is the time to determine who might be able to help.  It may be a neighbor, a nearby friend or a family member, but let them know they are part of your disaster evacuation plan.  Do not wait until disaster strikes.

Step 3: Local Rescue Groups and Resources

Call your local animal welfare organization to ask whether it has a disaster plan that includes providing evacuation assistance.  Local officials may be able to provide you with assistance ahead of time, but during a disaster they may not have time to pick up the phone.  Again, prepare now in order to understand what resources are available in your community.  **Make a list of the local animal resources in your area with phone numbers and addresses to include in your Grab-and-Go Disaster Kit.

Step 4: Sheltering

After you have determined how you will evacuate your animals, the next step is to find a safe location to keep the animals until you are able to return home.  This could be at the home or business of a friend, co-worker or family member.  You should also check to see whether there are plans in your community for a temporary animal evacuation shelter to be set up and supported by local or national animal welfare organizations.  Many human evacuation shelters do not allow pets, but some do have provisional shelter for animals.  Check with your community emergency management agency regarding its disaster shelter policies. If you have a mixture of large and small animals or if you have many animals, multiple locations may be required to shelter them.  Making these shelter connections ahead of time is key to avoiding confusion during the chaos of any disaster.  **Make a list of the shelter resources your community or friends who have agreed to help in case of emergency with phone numbers and addresses and keep it in your Grab-and-Go Disaster Kit.

Worst Case Scenario:

As you begin to evacuate your animals, an emergency situation may develop rapidly where you realize there are some that you cannot get to safety.  In this scenario, it is better to turn them loose than to leave them confined in the house or tied up outside.  When you let them go, be sure to put some form of identification on them, even if it means using a permanent marker and writing your name and phone number in a visible spot.

Animals are dependent on people to survive when disasters strike.  Don’t let your animals down.  Plan now!